Saturday, October 27, 2018

Anna's 80th Birthday - Sathyanarayana Pooja

Feb 3, 2018 - Saturday

Anna completed 80 years on Feb 2nd, 2018. We celebrated his 80th Birthday by inviting all our near and dear ones to the Sathyanarayana Pooja at Shri. Subrahmanya Matha, N R Colony, next to APS College grounds.

We had taken the First Floor of the building for this event. Day started with a sumptuous breakfast of Shaavige Bhath, and Kashhi Halwa, followed by steaming Coffee.

The Pooja itself started at 8 and got over by 10 AM giving enough time for everybody to meet and greet each other. It was so nice to see everybody whom we had invited come and join us for the wonderful event. 

The highlight of the event was Anna's 'Chaddi Dosts' from Gandhi Bazaar, friends for 70+ years come down and attend the function! A real feel good factor. Made up the day for Anna.

Relatives, Friends, Neighbours from both Anna and Amma's sides, joined us for the event.

The lunch was served at 12:30. We had 'Tarkari Kootu', 'Aloo Bonda', 'Mysore Pak', Laadu and Boondi, specially made for the occasion apart from the regular Rasam, Chitranna, Pineapple Gojju and other delicacies. 

Thanks to everyone for coming over to meet and greet Anna on this wonderful day and making a huge success.

Here are some photos and videos from the event.
Anna @ 80

A 3-day getaway to Sirsi and beyond

With the Dasara festival coming up, Souji wanted to make use of the holidays she would get along with the kids. So she chalked out a plan with visit to Sirsi and stay in a homestay along with a couple of families. After getting the confirmation from Sanjeev, Sarju, Pradeep and Usha, she booked the 'Parnakutira' homestay at 3 days at Sirsi. 

Sanjeev and family was to drive their car, while we planned to tag along with Pradeepa's Innova.

Oct 18, 2018 - Thursday [Ayudha Pooja Day]

Sanjeev's family left early morning by 5:15 AM ahead of us. Pradeepa and us, started around 10 AM after the Ayudha Pooja formalities at our respective homes. Parineetha, niece of Pradeepa accompanied us till Davanagere which we reached by 1 PM. Thanks to the wonderful hosts [Parents of Pradeepa's Sister-inLaw Chinmayee] for preparing a super-duper lunch at their house. It was a fun gathering and so nice to meet up with their family and having spent some good time there. 

We dropped Parineetha and then started again towards Sirsi by 3 PM, via Haveri. I drove the Innova [first time] till Haveri and Pradeepa took over from Haveri onwards. Smooth drive through beautiful greens under a setting sun - awesome!

'Parnakutira' - our Home Stay @ Sirsi:
We reached Sirsi our Home Stay 'Parnakutira' nestled inside a deviation 4 Kms away from the main town of Sirsi. This happens to be a 100 years old traditional home converted into a heritage homestay, and belongs to Asha's Uncle. So that is how we got to know of this place. A beautiful place to stay, and named after the forest home that Rama, Sita and Lakshmana lived during their vanavasa. The house can accommodate 3 to 4 families easily, has 3 good sized rooms with 2 of them having attached bathrooms and multiple halls, common bathrooms with both Indian and Western comforts. They even have an outdoor Badminton court, Indoor Carrom Board, Library, TV, beautifully landscaped front yard. The biggest asset to visitors is the amazing variety of traditional 'havyak' food they prepare. And before I forget to mention, this homestay is for Vegetarians, No Alcohol allowed inside and Smoking is prohibited! So if you plan to visit this place, you may want to fall into this bracket :-)

It was already 8 PM by the time we refreshed ourselves, met with the hosts and then visited the famous Sirsi Maarikamba Temple, which was about 4 kms from our Homestay. The temple was decked in colourful lights all across and swarming with huge number of people, both visitors as well as locals. The darshan was easy and we spent a good time at the temple. 

We were back in our homestay by 9:30 PM and had a wonderful dinner. We chalked our plan for the next day and hit the bed by 11 PM.

Oct 19, 2018 - Friday [Vijayadashami Day]:

Sanjeeva, Sarju, Souji and I got up by 6:30 AM, while the kids were still stiff as a bone in their beds. We strolled leisurely through the winding roads that led to our home-stay. The misty morning greens glistened with the slant rays of the morning sun falling on the dew drops and the huge trees alike, making the scenery look so fresh and so refreshing. 

We all got ready by 8 AM and were drawn straight to the sweet smells of Kharada Avalakki  with Curds and Uppittu. We got some packed some for kids for our day's visit as well. 

We started bang at 9:30 AM and headed straight to Yana which we reached by about in by 11 AM. Good clean roads, not much of traffic anywhere and it was a pleasant drive. The only concern was about Leeches at Yana, but we were kind of mentally prepared for it. This was one place on Souji's must visit bucket, ever since she was inspired by the movie 'Nammoora Mandhara Hoove'. We walked about a half a kilometer from the Parking lot amidst a lot of trees and greens, which is when the huge hillock of black stone started emerging in front of us. It looked as if a huge mass of black Lava rock simply rose to the heavens from ashes, making it look totally out of the world. The hill is completely VERTICAL! No slant or gradient sides to a hillock. Unbelievable!.

A little bit of a walk and you get to the base of this rocky hill structure where there is a small temple of Shiva underneath. The Poojari explained the multiple scientific research that have been conducted here to understand the origins of this natural rocky hill structure, which ended up inconclusive. The final conclusion got attributed to the divinity of Lord Shiva, being the reason for this place. Nevertheless, this place is just outstanding and a must visit for anybody visiting Sirsi. Thanks to Souji for making sure we visited this place!

The Poojari also asked us circle around the perimeter of the temple through rocky caves. The cave formation was just astounding with the sunlight playing hide and seek through the crevices over the top. We spent a good time taking loads of pictures, and it was worth it.

By the time we came back the parking lot, it was already 3 PM. With a small pitstop for tender coconuts, we departed Yana for 'Vibhooti Falls', which was about 30 minutes drive from the main road. 

Vibhooti Falls:
The moment we reached the Parking area of the falls, the rains came pouring down for about an hour - which gave us some time to enjoy the 'Mungaaru Male' while sipping piping-hot tea and coffee at a small shack near-by. Once the rains subsided, we walked for about 20 to 30 minutes through the slushy hill sides to reach the foot of the falls. We were very wary of the blood sucking leaches all along the way. The kids had no idea what one would look like and what to expect. 

A 100 foot tall Vibhooti falls emerged from the lush green cover, cascading and gently falling towards the earth in 2 jumps. The second section at the foot of the falls was quite small, making it friendly enough for people to bathe. The water was crystal clear, devoid of any plastic junk and litter. Pradeepa and Sanjeeva took the kids to the water and ensured they had a good time playing and having fun. Souji, Sarju and yours truly bay-watched all our babes. 

After dragging the wet-bodies off the falls, and having another round of tea and coffee at the shack, we rode back to our homestay, by 7:30 PM. The dinner had Chapathis and Subjees, Rice, Sambhar, Tambooli, Palya [curries], Jackfruit Papads, Chutneys, local variety of soups... wah wah... and that list went endless..  Burp!oor Khana!

We spent some time chit-chatting at the hexagonal Verandah overlooking the green landscaped garden and spent time talking on how the day went. We chalked out the next day's plan and decided to have a rather casual day than a packed one. We hit the bed early as well.

Oct 20, 2018 - Saturday:

We did an early morning walk and this time around the kids also joined us after we did our first round. Kids had a gala time running around the empty roads and their nonstop banter must have woken up half of Sirsi town miles away.

Breakfast was on the table waiting for us. Speciality of the day was 'Taalipattu' [Bangalore's Akki Rotti]. The Taalipattu, Coconut Chutney, Jonee Bella, Ghee and Honey combination was so tasty , we lost count of how many we had.  

Our humble hosts were literally sweating at the pace we were consuming them. They probably wouldn't have seen people eating as if there was no tomorrow. We could see tears rolling down their cheeks when we left the table for washing our hands, only to later know that we needed some more to be packed for that day's journey. We could hear the lady cook bang her head on the other side of the wall, in disbelief of us Bangalorean's appetite for Akki Rotti :-)

We started by about 10:30 AM, to visit the 'Gudavi Bird Sanctuary', about 40 Kms away from Sirsi town. It took as about an hour to reach that place. Good roads all along, so driving was fun. There was hardly any visitors there at the place so it was quite empty. We saw thousands of white and black cranes, egrets settled here after migrating from far and beyond. Nicely done 1 KM walk way all around the sanctuary with watch towers every now and then for an aerial view. 

Our next stop was Banavasi - The capital of Kadamba Dynasty. A grand 4 lane road welcomed us to the 'Uma Madhukeshwara' temple [dedicated to lord Shiva] which is the most important visiting point at Banavasi. The temple was built in 4 different centuries by different kings and kingdoms including that of Chalukya, Vijayanagar, Kadamba and Sondha kings. 

The temple also houses a large hall with massive black pillars and a place for court dancers to perform in front of the lord. The external quarters of the temple holds some beautiful artifacts like a richly carved stone cot presented by Sondha king 'Sadashiva Nayaka' which has inscriptions in Brahmi script [Classical form of Kannada script, 2 A.D] and adorned with intricate floral, animal and geometrical designs. Another artifact has inscriptions in 'Prakrit' language that is believed to be older than 'Sanskrit' language itself. 

A huge 50 foot Stone-Chariot stands tall at the entrance of the temple which was presented by Sondha king Ramachandra Nayak to the temple in the 16th Century.

The grand road in front of the temple looks majestic. We noticed that many shops were selling Cucumbers, Tender Coconuts, but one thing that was in huge demand was the king-size Pineapples. Upon inquiry we got to know that these belt from Sirsi till Sagar were best suited for Pineapple cultivation and we could see lorry loads of these getting transported. All of us had enjoyed quite a few of these Pineapple slices and they were juicy sweet or what! Very nice.

We left Banavasi by about 3:30 PM and reached Gudnapur, a short distance away from Banavasi, on the way back to Sirsi. This was a place that was on the tourist map and so we thought it must have something special. We landed at the Sangameshwara Temple very close to a huge lake. With copious rains, the water level in the lake had risen and submerged the floor of the temple up-to half a feet. So the otherwise ordinary road-side temple looked like a Star-category temple! There was nobody there at the temple and it looked quite deserted as well. Kids had a fun time splashing water in the courtyard of the temple while the oldies sat on the steps. With nothing much to see or do, we left on our way back to Sirsi. 

We drove past the Maarikamba temple where the ladies and kids did some 'Glass Bangle' shopping for some time. On our way back, we also visited the Kadamba Stores, which sells the local produce of Jackfruit Chips, Sambhar Powders, variety of local spices, Papads, Juices which we ended buying back to our home and families.

With that, we returned back to our homestay by 7 PM and refreshed ourselves. We all got seated at the hexagonal verandah and played Anthyakshari for quite a while. The boys [Sanjeev, Pradeepa and myself] took on the might of Sarju, Souji, Usha, Pooja, Srivali and Prathyusha. Shrishti and Ruchir got busy playing their own games. The Anthyakshari went on for 2 hours well through the dinner as well. It was great to see the kids doling out popular songs from Bollywood while the boys went after songs of the Rajkumar and Kishore Kumars. Loved it!

We chalked out the plan for the next day and then headed to sleep.

Oct 21, 2018 - Sunday:

Sanjeev and family left for Sondhe Vadiraja Matha at 5 AM to ensure that they got the dwadashi darshan and other proceedings completed. Rest of us had left to the Sondhe Matha at 8:30 AM after our breakfast at the homestay. We visted the main sections of Vadiraja Matha and offered our prayers there. We stayed for about an hour and then drove to the near-by, 'Sahasralinga' spot on the river 'Shalmali'. A beautiful place where one can see carvings of Shivalinga on many rock faces across the section of the river. The river was quite full but there were some nice spots where one could dip themselves in the water. It started with Ruchir wanting to get into water and then Pradeep and then Pooja and Prathyusha. So each of them got into the river and played in the water for close to an hour. We had to literally drag them off the river and then bring them back to the shore. 

We returned back to our Homestay and found Sanjeev and family waiting for us for the lunch. The cooks had prepared their special local dishes of their choice and we loved every one of them. The Kheer, Tambooli, Sambhar, Sweet Kadubu with Honey and Appehuli were just excellent. 

It was already 1 PM by the time we were all set to leave. We bade our wonderful hosts good-bye and started our return journey back to Bangalore. On our way, we stopped briefly at Davangere for having a quick bite of the Authentic Davanagere Benne Masala Dosa at the very hotel it all started - Shri Guru Kottureshwara Benne Dose Hotel, which was right opposite to the Kasturba Medical College Campus. 

We also did a dinner stop around 8 PM at 'Purohit Dhaba' right after Sira, where we were treated with lipsmackingly delicious Rajasthani dinner. We endured a mile-long traffic jam at Nelamangala junction, post which we took the Nice road and then reached home 30 minutes past midnight. 

Overall, a wonderful trip where we say the beautiful places in and around Sirsi with the company of two lovely families. A very good and memorable trip. Looking forward to many more such trips. 

Click on the photo below for some selected photos from this trip.

A 3 day getaway to Sirsi and beyond!